Leaf lessons for train drivers

A TRAIN now leaf-ing platform tree is the special lesson loco for drivers!Drivers from throughout East Anglia are getting instruction . . . on dealing with the railway curse of leaves on the line!Ipswich-based Anglia Railways has hired the privately-owned Mid Norfolk Railway, which runs between Wymondham and East Dereham, to teach its drivers how to cope with slippery rails.

By Paul Geater

A TRAIN now leaf-ing platform tree is the special lesson loco for drivers!

Drivers from throughout East Anglia are getting instruction . . . on dealing with the railway curse of leaves on the line!

Ipswich-based Anglia Railways has hired the privately-owned Mid Norfolk Railway, which runs between Wymondham and East Dereham, to teach its drivers how to cope with slippery rails.


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"We've taken one of our railcars up there to give drivers an intensive course on how to drive on slippery tracks caused by leaves on the line," said Jonathan Denby of Anglia.

Leaves are a regular problem for rail companies, and added to the rail chaos in the wake of last week's gales.

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When leaves fall on the track and get wet, they form a slippery film.

Trains cannot get enough grip to get started, and once they are started they cannot get enough grip to stop safely when brakes are applied – so they have to operate slower.

Special equipment has been developed to clear the lines, but now extra time and effort is being devoted to training drivers how to cope with the problem.

"It's certainly not a complete answer to the problem, but it is useful for drivers to have had training on dealing with this condition," said Mr Denby.

The company's training programme has helped to cut down the number of SDADs – Signals Passed At Danger – that its trains have been involved in.

There were no SPADs in East Anglia during September, the last month for which figures have been published.

The Mid Norfolk Railway was re-opened by enthusiasts in 1999, 30 years after regular passenger services were axed by British Rail.

It is open for passenger services at weekends, using historic diesel units, but now it is being used by a modern unit, similar to that being used on the Ipswich to Felixstowe line.

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